Suit on Behalf of American Public Filed Challenging NSA Surveillance

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The New York Sun

A class action lawsuit on behalf of the American public has been filed in Brooklyn challenging the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program. The legal complaint names President Bush and several members of the administration as defendants.

Since the New York Times first reported in December that the NSA was monitoring, without a court order, international calls to persons with suspected terrorist links, a handful of lawsuits have been lodged against both the Bush administration and telephone companies in several states. In both Michigan and New York, lawsuits have been filed that challenge the program on behalf of attorneys and journalists who, as part of their work, regularly communicate with persons abroad.

The new complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, differs from most others in that it is filed against the government in the name of the American people, one of the lawyers involved in the lawsuit, Matthew Brinckerhoff, said.

“The American people deserve better,” the complaint reads. “The American people should not be subjected to a massive, illegal, covert spying operation by their own government. This class action is brought on behalf of all present and future United States persons who have been or will be subject to electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency without a search warrant or a court order since September 12, 2001.”

Mr. Bush and several members of his administration have said the program is important to government efforts to prevent terrorist attacks.

With the lawsuit, Mr. Brinckerhoff told The New York Sun that he hopes to have the surveillance program declared illegal. He also seeks to require the government to pay damages to every American whose e-mails or phone calls have been screened without a court’s permission.

Listed as plaintiffs are Virginia Shubert, Noha Arafa, Sarah Dranoff, and Hilary Botein, whom Mr. Brinckerhoff described as “just Brooklynites who I happen to know.”

In words that underscore just how little is known about the NSA surveillance program, Mr. Brinckerhoff said he looks forward to arguing in court that the government should hand over information about its surveillance efforts.

“I would love to go through a lengthy and difficult discovery process,” he said. “The big battle is to get to have it.”

The New York Sun

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